Monday 1 April 2013

Loving Life No Matter What

Moraine Lake, Alberta, Canada (photographer unknown)

I have this picture of Moraine Lake, Canada, by my bed (tilted sideways so I can look at it while lying down). It reminds me of the last year I was well: 2003, and a beautiful memory of travelling through the wilderness with Angie. We rowed out into the middle of this lake, nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains, in a little canoe. Although the weather, though fine, was quite different that day, this picture is still a vivid reminder of a place which feels like a sanctuary. It's so tranquil and still, and I can almost meditate just feeling a part of it. It's comforting. I so need comfort right now. I so need a true refuge inside myself.

I’m feeling that even more now, because today has been SHIT, SHIT, SHIT!!! I mean twenty-four hours of absolute fuck! My heart has been breaking, but at the same time, worryingly, I can feel myself begin to numb to it, dissociating from my feelings. “Ah yes, Michael, but then it’s always about your feelings, isn’t it…”

I want to look at life and feel it the way Tara Brach does, but I can’t seem to. In her new book ‘True Refuge’, she writes of ‘loving life no matter what’, of being ‘happy for no reason’. She’s an experienced meditator, of course, and it’s only recently, as chronic pain has crept into her life, that she’s been able to do this. All the same, she’s an inspiration to me. And I know I don’t practice mindful awareness on a regular basis, so I haven’t really begun to put that inspiration into effect. Perhaps I will now, because living the rest of my life like this is not really what I want. I want to deeply, feelingly love life – the whole damn catastrophe of it all, pain or no pain! But all I seem able to do is love little bits of it. 

Photo by Angie Roche,
Moraine Lake,
September 2003
I want to be happy for no reason.

Perhaps this passage, adapted from the deeply moving final chapter of ‘True Refuge’, will give you some idea of what I mean. If it resonates with a similar longing in your own life, my heartfelt wish is that you, both of us, all of us, will be able to find a way to love life no matter what.


  1. seems self-compassion fits well here too michael. to love yourself when your feeling 'happy for no reason' or feeling 'shit, shit, shit'. may my love (and the love of our sangha) for this part of you - the misery and raw honesty - be an avenue to accept yourself deeply.

    alisa xx

    1. That wonderful sangha we both started, Alisa! Thank you dearly for such kind, wise words. You've touched on the very part of myself which is most difficult for me to accept; the fact that you accept it in me is helping to show me the way. You're a special person and I thank you for it.


  2. You are kind and sensitive and filled with compassion. I am a grandmother and mother. My son are(46 and 47) I hope and pray they always stay true to who they are. I love what you share, we can all learn from you. Stay true to your self.
    Always Catherine

  3. Catherine, your sons are so lucky to have grown up with such a mother, and I'm sure that they WILL stay true! Thank you so much for your kind and loving words, at a time when I need them so much.

    Michael xx

  4. I know I'm missing the point a bit here (which I seem to be specialising in these days) but looking at that photo and reading your description I immediately thought of another part of True Refuge. I thought what a beautiful place this could be to feel safe and comforted and wondered if it was somewhere you go to feel that way when you need to. Because it reminds me spookily of some meditations that I have done in the past.

    Isn't it so strange - that we aim to be mindful and accepting of what 'is' and yet we are still driven by a desire for things to be different...the 'I want's? One of the many strange tensions I find in these kinds of practices.

    Enough babbling - sending love and compassion. XXOO

    1. It isn't somewhere I've been often in my mind, Kirsten, although occasionally I have! My place of safe refuge is usually rather more homely: the little cottage and flowered bank I described in a blog a few months ago, where I also imagine sitting with people in my life I feel safe with. But I have sometimes used Moraine lake for peaceful visualisations. Isn't it amazing that you have sometime visualised a place so similar!

      Yes, the almost-paradox is one that often occurs to me too. I think it's resolved by us 'wanting' to reach a place where we can be accepting of life. That ability is here within us all the time, but it can be difficult to access and so we feel we have to practice to find a way to 'get there'.

      Certainly not missing the point; lovely thought-provoking ideas. Thank you, Kirsten, for your kindness too. Sending compassion and hugs. xx

  5. Happy for no reason. . . . That sounds so lovely. I wish for it, too, Michael, and you've expressed the wish so eloquently.

    I must confess, even though I have her first book, I still have not read much of Tara Brach. I think I'm afraid of what will come up when I do, if that makes sense. I must be brave.

    Wonderful post, Michael. Thank you. :)

    1. When I first read aloud the words 'happy for no reason', I found my voice choking back tears, Barbara. I realised that they expressed a very deep longing - probably for many of us.

      I feel comforted by Tara's book as by almost no other. All the same, I think I know what you mean. I often feel nervous of meditation (certainly on my own), because it can bring up feelings (physical and emotional) that I find painful. When it helps it REALLY helps, but I do shy away from it at times. Is that what you mean when you talk about being 'afraid of what will come up'?

      There's a time for everything. If you ever feel ready, I expect you will know. And if you're finding wisdom and comfort from other sources, maybe you don't need to read Tara.

      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment. Hugs across the ocean! xx